Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (195)

Neale Richmond

Question:

195. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth when children with additional needs who avail of the ECCE scheme will be permitted to return to crèches; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7615/21]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The ECCE programme is currently suspended during Covid-19 restrictions up to 5 March, with the timeframe remaining subject to review in the context of the evolving public health circumstances. During this period, early learning and care (ELC) and school-age childcare (SAC) services remain open on a restricted basis, to offer services to the children of essential workers and to vulnerable children.

To provide clarity both for parents and for ELC/SAC services, the Department has published FAQs and guidance documents, including guidance on the eligibility of children who may attend services, which may be obtained from the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/240258-up-to-date-information-on-covid-19/

To support families whose children of pre-school age are at home at this time, the Department launched a Preschool at Home Hub on the First 5 website (https://first5.gov.ie/parents/pre-school-at-home), which provides a range of activities, for all abilities, to support and encourage children’s interests and to keep children playing and learning at home. In addition the Department has encouraged all ELC services to reach out to children who benefit from targeted supports under the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) but who cannot attend the service during this period.